Humane Society Fights South Carolina Bear “Baying”

From this story in the Houston Chronicle: _A declawed, defanged bear is chained to a stake as hunting dogs bark … Continued

From this story in the Houston Chronicle:
_A declawed, defanged bear is chained to a stake as hunting dogs bark and snap at it, trying to force the bear to stand on its hind legs so hunters can shoot it more easily. The practice called bear baying is only allowed in South Carolina. Armed with new undercover video of four such events, the Humane Society of the United States is pressuring state officials to explicitly outlaw the practice, which the organization says is effectively banned in every other state. Animal rights advocates say it’s cruel to the nearly defenseless bears and harms them psychologically.

__Hunters say the exercise popular in the state’s hilly northwestern corner helps them train their dogs on what to do when they come across a bear during a hunt. State law on the issue is murky. Statutes banning animal fighting have a specific exemption for dog training. And while South Carolina’s attorney general says animal cruelty laws prohibit bear baying, he hasn’t prosecuted any cases.

The videos, which were filmed with hidden cameras by activists posing as spectators, show an adult black bear standing on all fours, its back to a 4-foot high wooden fence, tethered to the ground by several feet of chain. Crowds of a few dozen line the dirt pen around it. The bear rises onto its hind legs as three hounds sprint toward it, which is precisely the point: Hunters have a better chance of killing a bear swiftly with a shot to its exposed underbelly. The unleashed dogs bark, show their teeth and swat at the bear, which lunges to the end of the chain, then backs up against the fence. Moments later, handlers pull off the dogs. A new team of dogs ˜ most of them Plott hounds weighing about 50 pounds ˜ soon takes on the roughly 150-pound bear. Dozens more will follow.

“We really view this as a throwback to the days of the Roman Colosseum, when people filled an arena as spectators to watch animals pitted against each other,” said Michael Markarian, the Humane Society’s chief operating officer.
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